Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, which operates 1,368 stores, is also supporting the work of Thai Union, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), and Wholechain to utilize a standardized ID for artisanal blue swimming crab fishery in the Philippines.

The universal fish IDs, powered by SFP’s FishSource, establish unique, standardized IDs for all of the world’s major fisheries for the first time, SFP said in a press release.

The IDs will strengthen the transparency of seafood sourcing and be a common “language” for the seafood industry to refer to the same fishery, according to SFP.

Publix will be the first supermarket to feature the universal fishery ID codes on the packaging of its crab meat.

 “The key to being successful in retail is building consumer trust, and trust is about traceability and transparency,” said Guy Pizzuti, business development director of seafood at Publix.

It was easy for Publix to participate as it already purchases its crabmeat from Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, Pizutti said.

“SFP was working with Chicken of the Sea and, since we purchase our crabmeat from them, it was the first place for us to engage. It was really about that fishery being ready based on the groundwork laid by Chicken of the Sea.”

Then, Publix played a “minor role,” providing the market incentive and the package redesign, according to Pizutti.

The fishery IDs are important for standardizing the way seafood companies along the whole supply chain, from retailers to fishers, identify and communicate about source fisheries, Braddock Spear, global policy director at SFP, said.

“Traceability is only as good as the data that is being put into the system. This reduces error, confusion, and inconsistency in transferring source fishery information along the supply chain. And it improves efficiency of information flow as everyone will be using the same familiar standard and ID codes.”

Calling all species

In addition to crab, the fishery ID tags may be used on other species in the future.

“Suppliers, source, and systems must align. This will be discussed with more suppliers moving forward,” Pizutti said. “We have no timeline at this point.”

The codes are available for all wild caught seafood across all product types: fresh, frozen, shelf-stable, Spear said.

“Our goal is for more major retailers to join Publix and utilize fishery ID tags across their seafood packaging. We will be making an announcement soon that will make it easy for SFP’s current retail partners to implement fishery IDs for their products.”

While Publix is not currently developing educational materials on the ID tags for consumers, Pizzuti anticipates they will scan QR code “simply because it will be on the package.”

Publix is also in the midst of a project that will automate the COOL process for its stores by a scan of a BAR code applied to the shipping unit by its suppliers.

“Our teams are currently working on gathering detailed system requirements and will soon be reaching out to our suppliers with the updated labeling requirements utilizing a GS1 Data Matrix that will allow us to capture the data,” PIzzuti said.

Publix expects to be in the pilot phase of its COOL BAR code project by next spring.

This article is an excerpt from the April 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Seafood Traceability feature and more in the digital edition here.